Remembering a Man of Integrity and Wisdom

Karel Nowak: "He was widely respected, greatly loved, and will be deeply missed."

Karel Nowak, right, was Secretary General of the Association Internationale de Défense de la Liberté Religieuse. His tragic death August 19 has prompted tributes from around the world. [Photo: Barry Bussey]

 Tributes continue to flow in from around the world for Karel Nowak, Secretary General of the Association Internationale de Défense de la Liberté Religieuse, who died August 19 while taking a few days of vacation en route to an IRLA event in Sydney, Australia. See Message from IRLA Secretary General.

 The messages express shock and sadness, and together help paint a portrait of a man who was widely respected, greatly loved, and who will be deeply missed. [IRLA Staff]

“Karel was a leader who mixed his perceptive and rare insight with a practical love and caring for people. He never missed an opportunity to say a good word and do a kind deed. He was a joy wherever he went. His perceptive abilities and practical grasp of the heart and mission of his church will at once be a lasting contribution to the church and a profound loss. My greatest assurance and comfort is that I know he was at peace with God and God was with him to the end. He made earth a little heaven for so many people. Now heaven will be his in the earth made new.” --Dr. Delbert Baker, IRLA Vice President and General Vice President of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, who led out in a memorial service for Karel on the final day of the Meeting of Experts in Sydney, Australia.

"Karel was efficient, wise and always kind. Working with him was a pleasure. His knowledge of the United Nations was very helpful for us and we often turned to him for advice before making public statements. But more than this, he has been, for many of us, a good friend for many years. I think of his wife Dana and his family who have to face such a loss. All the PARL family will miss Karel and his death is a tragic loss for those who defend religious freedom. The participants of the 13th IRLA Meeting of Experts express all their condolences to his wife and his family. In such a painful time when a beloved friend passes away, it is so important to remember that death will not have the final word. Our dear Karel is at rest but one day we will meet him again. It is our hope.  --Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the IRLA, who has known Karel for more than 25 years.

 “Karel was a very warm man, who always made those who worked with him feel welcome and comfortable. He graciously showed me around the UN complex in Geneva and introduced me to many people there when I was representing the General Conference to the UN. He was very proud of his family, and often spoke with affection about his children. He also did an outstanding job monitoring developments at the European Union, and the Church community writ large relied on his insightful analysis. His loss, therefore, is keenly felt by those who worked with him both on the personal and professional level. Our hearts are with his family at this tragic time.” --Attorney James Standish, communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific, and formerly Deputy Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association.

“I will forever remember our time we spent together with the utmost fondness. A Godly, Christian man, a defender of the principle of religious freedom has defended his last case before the parliaments of Europe – but his legacy continues. … I long for the day when I get to meet Karel again and say, “Thanks for being such a good friend, for being a mentor, for being used of God.”  --Excerpt from article by Attorney Barry Bussey, former United Nations relations director for the Seventh-day Adventist world church. Read the full article here.

 “I am shocked at the news of Karel's passing. It seems incomprehensible. I first met Karel many years ago when he served as president of our church in the Czech Republic. He was very kind and gracious toward me, taking time to give me a tour of places of national and religious interest. His gentle manner and thoughtfulness impressed me greatly. When we met on later occasions, he was just the same--genuine and sincere. Truly, he was a servant of God whose demeanor and life reflected the compassion of Jesus. My heart goes out to his dear ones in this terrible loss. May they find comfort in the promises of the scriptures and in precious memories of this wonderful person.”  --Dr. William Johnsson, Inter-faith relations director for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church

“This is a huge loss for Public Affairs and Religious Liberty work in Europe. I am really shocked and saddened by this terrible news.  Karel in many ways has become one of my mentors in religious liberty and I will greatly miss him. --Raafat Kamal, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director in Trans-Europe region

“We have just been officially informed about the sad news about our dear Pastor Nowak.We always saw him as a good man, sincere, efficient and with an exceptional education, which made him a priceless resource in religious liberty work. We pray that his work may follow in this path, with the blessing of our Lord. May the Lord continue to give you strength and courage for your work too.” --Artur Machado and Paulo Sérgio Macedo, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, Portugal    

“This morning I received very sad news that Karel Nowak has passed away. The Northern Asia-Pacific Division [of Seventh-day Adventists] sends our heartfelt sorrow and condolence for his grief-stricken family, especially his wife. We pray that our Comforter will give them great comfort and peace with hope of resurrection.” --Dr. HongPal Ha, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Northern Asia Pacific.

“I would like to express here my sorrow and my surprise for the loss of Karel Nowak. I come from the Euro Africa Division and I always had wonderful contact with Karel Nowak. He was a real man of God, always attentive, and very lovely man. I remember the last meetings I had with him, in November 2010 at the Winter Meeting of the Euro-Africa Division at the Adventist University of Collonges and in February 2011 in Beirut for the PARL advisory of the Trans-European Division. [At this last meeting] we were in the same taxi from the airport to the Middle East University, what a great, nice and gentleman he was! The Church has lost a great leader. I am praying for his family. What comforts me in a difficult time like this is that I am sure that we will see him again when Jesus will come back. Please give all my best thoughts and love to Dana, his wife. May our Lord protect her and their children from discouragement.” --Richard Elofer, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Israel